Additive manufacturing system provider Optomec is known in the industry for its LENS 3D printer for metal components. However, the New Mexico-based company has also made waves with its patented aerosol jet systems, which are designed for 3D printing electronics – definitely an area in which Optomec excels. Now, a new machine is joining the line of additive electronics printers, specially designed for advanced electronics packaging and in-line production.
The new Aerosol Jet HD2 is optimized for use in the latest US $ 4 billion semiconductor packaging and assembly market, one of Optomec’s key applications. This market even includes competing technologies like dispensing and wire bonding, where an average of 5,000 to 10,000 machines are shipped each year.
“The HD2 is changing the way designers think about IC packaging. Not only can this reduce the size of the final electronics package, but it can also surpass wire bonding for high frequency signals. Wire bonds simply create a lot of inductance for RF applications above 40 GHz, ”said Bryan Germann, Aerosol Jet product manager, in a press release.
Developed this new printer to meet the continuing demand for miniaturized wearables and mobile products, Optomec uses its patented Aerosol Jet technology to print high resolution circuits. According to the publication, the new Aerosol Jet HD2 can provide “conformal 3D connections” between substrates, chips, components and chips. This is important because the powerful connections may actually perform better at high frequencies. Good news for mmWave and 5G applications. In addition, no wire bonding is required.
Aerosol Jet technology applies a fine mist of ink based on conductive nanoparticles or dielectric inks to a surface using precision jet printing. It supports 3D printing on different types of substrates, including ceramic and metal structures, although commercially available materials like nanoparticle-based inks have been optimized for the process so you can print on plastics with low heat dissipation temperatures. In addition, Optomec’s Aerosol Jet process can also be used to apply adhesives and insulating materials.
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One possible application for this electronic 3D printer is the manufacture of antennas, sensors and transmission lines on various materials such as ceramic, metal, glass, polymers, FR4 and IC materials. One important option, however, is to use the new Aerosol Jet HD2 as a “replacement” for the proven process of using wire bonds to connect electrical components. Wire bonds can have many problems, which makes joining components difficult: they require high mechanical contact with the IC, which often results in the production of scrap that is just wasted. Wire bonds also take up more space in a package: Not helpful when trying to create miniaturized consumer electronics devices where smaller is usually better. Finally, the high frequency MM wave signals needed for automotive radar and 5G communications can be cut off by wire bonds.
The new Aerosol Jet HD2 printer can produce features as small as ten microns with an accuracy of less than 5 microns. Then the nanoparticles are sintered together to form a solid metal conductor made of silver, copper or gold. Customers intended for mass production can purchase the system with an optional in-line conveyor process for automated part loading or a rotary table for 4-axis machining. The system can handle parts trays or substrates up to 300mm wide and takes QA compliance seriously by including production-friendly software so the operator can easily figure out the startup process.
(Source / Images: Optomec)